JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An eight to two run in the final 30 seconds wasn't enough for Jacksonville University (17-14, 5-9 ASUN) Thursday in the second round of the River City Rumble. The Dolphins fell 73-69 to North Florida (13-18, 8-6 ASUN) in UNF Arena.
"Man we had some opportunities here tonight," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "A couple of turnovers in the last four or five possessions and some uncharacteristic shooting at the line hurt us down the stretch."
With the loss to North Florida and a win by NJIT over USC Upstate, the Dolphins will now play at the Ospreys' house again on Monday in the first round of the ASUN Conference tournament. The bracket for the ASUN tournament can be found here.
JU came out a bit flat at the beginning of the second half, earning just three points in the first five possessions. At the same time, UNF hit two three-pointers and a transition layup, stretching the lead to 11, 43-32, with 17:27 left. Again, the Dolphins dug deep and fought back. Tanner Rubio hit three three-pointers to pull JU within three, 45-42. However, missed free throws and turnovers kept JU from tying it up as the Ospreys scored nine straight, leading 54-44 with 11:02 left.
The veteran leadership of Marcel White, Darien Fernandez, and Antwon Clayton came to the forefront over the next four minutes as JU went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 54-54. Dallas Moore hit a three to put UNF back up, but a White dunk cut the lead to just one. UNF's Moore would again stretch the lead out on seven straight points, and with just over 30 seconds left North Florida led by nine, 70-61.
But the Dolphins had one more push left. Fernandez scored eight straight to pull JU within three points, 72-69 with just 10 seconds on the clock, and on the inbounds play the senior from Onset, Mass., tipped the ball towards a waiting Dolphin. The ball took an Osprey-friendly bounce, and Moore recovered the ball. He was promptly fouled and hit the back end of two free throws to end the Dolphin threat.
The tip bounced the Ospreys' way, but neither team was able to score on the first two possessions. North Florida missed its first two three point attempts, and JU had a missed shot and a turnover in the early goings. UNF then locked in offensively, hitting four straight baskets and seven of their next eight to lead by eight, 18-10, with 12:57 left in the half. JU twice cut it down to four points, but three straight threes from Aaron Bodager put the UNF lead at 13, 31-18, with 5:26 left. But the Dolphins were not done fighting. Over the final 5:03 the Dolphins outscored UNF 12-4, pulling within five points, 35-30, at the half.